Individual Differences, in Children
Reese H. Todd
The melting pot metaphor has long been cherished in American life and lore. Generations of immigrants arrived in the United States with dreams of a new life in the land of opportunity. The new immigrants were expected to “fit in” and lose their ethnic backgrounds and languages. At the same time, the western frontier beckoned newcomers willing to strike out on their own, relying on their own skills, strengths, and knowledge to overcome obstacles. This other face of American identity valued rugged individualism with its ethic of independence, determination, and selfexpression. It focused on individual differences and the unique characteristics of individuals, their abilities and contributions. When educators used the melting pot metaphor, schooling was aimed toward everyone learning the same curriculum. Those students who failed, dropped out and went to work on farms or in factories. But when educators used the metaphor of individualism, they differentiated instruction, and that ...